September – Back to School – Recipe

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Lunch Box Snacks

It’s hard to believe that packing a lunch is the easy part. A leftover to microwave. A sandwich to cut – rectangles or triangles? Peanut butter or turkey? Jam or cheese?

Snacks.

Many schools have rules on snacks. Some depend on allergies if the snack will be eaten in the lunchroom or the classroom. Some list “healthy snacks”, which I always find something on the list or prohibited from the the list that I object to. One example is they’ll include raisins, but exclude pretzels. Not sure the reasoning behind that. Raisins are great, and healthy, but not good for your teeth if you don’t have the opporutnity to brush them.

Here is my top ten list (not in preference orderr) for lunch box snacks!

1. Raisins or Craisins

2. Pretzels (my favorite)

3. Baby carrots or carrot sticks. Celery. Broccoli. With or without dip.

4. Granola bars (read the packaging for allergies, though. Same with pretzels. You’d be amazed how many pretzels are made on machines that also manufacture peanut snacks.)

5. Baggie of cereal. Cheerios, Kix, Lucky Charms, whatever your favorite is really.

6. String Cheese

7. Crackers and cheese or peanut butter.

8. Graham crackers with cream cheese

9. Applesauce. (This also goes well with graham crackers.)

10. Apples, oranges, bananas. Fresh fruit is always a good option.

July: Sum Sum Summer: Reflection

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​July has sped along, and it hasn’t been bad, or terrible, or really all that hot. Some really hot days, and really hot steering wheels, but I can’t complain overall about the nights. I was just mentioning today that the last couple of years it seems that August is the hottest of the summer months, thank you very much global warming for screwing up the norms.

From the end of the school year until just after Independence Day, our family is in flux. Some days off from work, some, if I’m being honest, a lot of, lazy days, some pajama days, not always planned until we wake up and don’t feel like getting dressed, but it ticks along until we get into some kind of schedule that works for everyone. Usually after my husband’s birthday.

I have implemented a points system this year for my kids that appears to be working. More or less. They don’t know what they’re working towards or what the points can be traded for at the end of the summer yet. Neither do I. Yet. But with my husband working from home, it’s really helped them declare their own independence while letting me work in my bedroom for most of the morning. Instead of bothering him, they get their own breakfasts and set about doing their busywork, whether that’s YouTube or games or books. They quietly feed themselves with whatever we have, and they’re old enough to microwave or use the tea kettle and toaster, so their breakfast and lunches (peanut butter for one, Nutella for the other) gets them through most mornings without rancor.

For me…I just don’t want to do anything. I think it’s part of a mild depression. I don’t feel that things are impossible or that I’ve reached desperation, but there’s something just bleh that I can’t shake. I’m tired but not in the needing rest sense. I know that current events and politics are feeding that tiredness and anger and frustration. 

I want to be in church for mass, but I don’t want to actually leave the house to go to  mass. 

My husband organized a spontaneous road trip to Destiny USA on Cayuga Lake in Syracuse, and it was cheap, which is always a good thing. I mean it cost next to nothing, and it was fun. It was adventurous for the two of us in the family who need plans and lists and things. But it was still something of a struggle. It was a very conscious effort to be there for everyone and everything. And the amount of energy it expends to be that self-aware and that self-censoring is really quite exhausting.

I want to write, but I don’t want to sit down and get to the process of writing. I have so many things that need to be written and then posted or filed or edited, and I can’t decide on which is the most important, and then I get paralyzed with indecision and do nothing. I have yet to continue the journal I want to write for our family trip to Ireland. It’s almost a year since we went and came back. Part of that, I know is that we probably won’t get a vacation this year, but part of it is also that I want it to be perfect for posterity and summer at home is too noisy to just sit and reflect quietly on that very special trip. Unsure about a vacation this year with too many other monetary priorities plus a mistake with our taxes that refunded us significantly less than I had anticipated. Trudge along, though. That’s all any of us can do. Trudge along.

I did see my therapist a couple of days ago, and that helps; not just the going, but the anticipation of going. It’s like a balm. If I’m feeling anxious, I look at the calendar and see the appointment and I can get through a minor pang of anxiety.

I think July is just more of my cranky month than the others. The kids home more than usual, the air hotter than usual, less money, more expectations, anticipations of so many things to do, and then having to live up to those expectations.

Well, let’s think positively.

Let’s see what can happen.

Families Belong Together

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Some Twitter resources for today as well as throughout this election year. None of these accounts are affiliated with the federal government or official accounts of the departments they talk about.

Immigration

Jacob Soboroff (journalist covering the border crisis)

RAICESTEXAS (helping reunite families)

Alternative Dept. Homeland Security

Alternative Homeland Sec

Ireallydocare.com (not a Twitter, but a list of non-profits helping (also listed below))

Al Otro Lado – serves indigent deportees, migrants, and refugees in Tijuana & Los Angeles

https://www.alotrolado.org


The Florence Project – providing legal & social services to detained immigrants in Arizona

https://firrp.org/


Neta – a Latinx-run progressive media platform telling the stories of what’s happening on the border

https://www.netargv.com


Innovation Law Lab – working in immigrant detention centers and hostile judicial districts; keeping the definitive list of kids being held

https://www.innovationlawlab.org


Fuerza Del Valle – organizing workers & immigrant communities in the Rio Grande Valley

http://www.fuerzadelvalle.org/


The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights – promoting the best interests of unaccompanied immigrant children

https://www.theyoungcenter.org/


We Belong Together – women for common sense immigration policies

https://www.webelongtogether.org/


United We Dream – the largest immigrant youth-led network in the country

https://unitedwedream.org/


Womens Refugee Commission – advocating for the rights and protection of women, children, and youth fleeing violence and persecution

https://www.womensrefugeecommission.org/


ACLU – fighting attacks through the legal system

http://www.aclu.org


Kids In Need of Defense (KIND) – protecting unaccompanied children who enter the US immigration system alone to ensure that no child appears in court without an attorney.

https://supportkind.org/


Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project – providing asylum seekers with legal aid and community support across the country

https://asylumadvocacy.org/


Human Rights First – helping refugees obtain asylum in the U.S.

https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/


La Union del Pueblo Entero – founded by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, a community union that works in the Rio Grande Valley from the grassroots up

https://lupenet.org/

Committee for the Protection of Journalists

Indivisible Team

Rogue Senior WH Advisor

Alternative National Parks Service

Rogue NASA

Alternative Forest Service

Alternative EPA

Alternative DoJ

Alternative NOAA

Alternative National Parks Service

EPA Facts

Ungagged EPA

Not Alt World

June: School’s Out: Reflection

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School’s Out, but the Learning Continues

My daughter’s already got a list going for the summer activities she wants to complete. Most of it is based on past years and I’m sure some will coordinate with her Snapchat and soon to be Instagram, but that’s okay. She has a soon to be instagram, but that’s okay. She has a good eye. For now, she wants to be a fashion designer, but photography is good in almost any field; I use it for my writing.

Starting next week, school’s ot, but the learning goes on. Everything is a teachable moment, from organizing the clutter coming home from school lockers and desks to cooking and gardening.

Yesterday, I gave my two younger kids a homework assignment. Before June 21st, give me a list of five things you want to do this summer. Three of them must be free. Then add a sixth item with a suggestion of where you might want to take vacation this summer. No airplanes, car trip only, and this is not a guarantee of having a vacation.

Once I get their list, I’ll have them research their vacation item and create a budget.

In addition to that, we also will continue to have our Movie Day each week, two or three taste testings, art and journaling, bicycle rides, tending the yard, and a local history lesson.

What are some of the ways you’re still learning this summer?

June: School’s Out: Recipe

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​For the past several summers, my kids have enjoyed taste testing. They’ve already asked about it this year, and school isn’t quite finished yet. I would go to the supermarket and pick out three to five new foods to try, usually exotic fruits that they didn’t typically get on a regular basis. I’d only get one of each and cut them into pieces for each of us to have a taste. If we really liked something, we’d go back to the store for more.

This is truly a great summer activity. Try new foods, offer healthy choices, add to our vocabulary, increase kitchen skills, and tick another day off the countdown back to school. At this age, the kids join me about halfway through wanting to return to their friends and schedules.

Not everything will go over well. My son desperately wanted anchovies. We ordered a pizza with two slices only with anchovies. The picture of his face is priceless and still makes me laugh. Just mentioning the word anchovy makes his whole face scrunch up. He did not like them at all.

Here is a list (below the cut) of some of the things we’ve tried, some we’re still thinking about fot this year, and suggestions for your own taste test day.

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What Is Free Comic Book Day?

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Today is Free Comic Book Day. Following the link will take you to their official website and use their location finder to find your local participating comic store. This is a family tradition for many families, ours included since the beginning.

Free comics, stickers, cosplay. It is great fun for all ages. Our comic shop collects for local charities as well, so it’s also a great community event.

April: Quiet, Rebirth, Reassessment: Reflection

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​I reassess how things are going at various times throughout the year. I think some of that attitude is due to therapy, the constant thinking on how I’m doing, how I’m feeling, what’s new, what’s stale, etc.

I usually start with Rosh Hashanah and look back again at New Year’s

Spring is another good time to reassess how things are going, personally, professionally, spiritually, whatever needs assessing. I’m constantly assessing and reassessing my prayer life (when, how, what’s working, what’s not), my family life (discipline, family time, housekeeping, vacation plans, if any), and my writing life (outlines, content, major changes). Those are probably the three biggest for me.

What in your life needs a reassessment?

Ask yourself these questions:

Is this still working for me?

If not, what is it that’s not working?

What changes will help me move forward?

What can I do to do/be better? (Sometimes, it’s simply a minor thing, like getting up half an hour earlier or even wearing a favorite scarf or pin.)

The sun is shining more, the winds have died down, and it’s a bit warmer out (not this year in the Northeast, but we can hope for the coming change). It’s a good time to make changes when we’re coming out of our winter shell.

What changes will you make this month?